Let’s continue the song and snippet of The Woe of Shadows.
The second song – Come Little Children – reminds me of the crones. How could I not include it? Specifically, it reminds me of the climax of Woe of Shadows. In the climax, the crones play a vital part in shaping Nerfari’s future.
Slowly, the queen tilts her head back. Perched on a branch, Wrenchel Withervein stares down at them. A single glowing beetle rests against the trunk as if warning them she’s been there the entire time and refusing to let the woman linger in complete darkness.
Wrenchel’s sharp pointed teeth, rotted and decayed, are bared in a feral grin. Straw-like grey hair sticks out in every direction, and her clothes are aged, soiled, ripped, and burned in the oddest places. The hag looks like she hasn’t eaten in days, for her skin hangs off her bones like her rags hang off her body.
“You smell deliciously sweet,” she says, each word slow, deep, and snake-like. When she emphasizes the word sweet, Amala’s skin crawls. “Like the ripe melons grown in the fertile soils of Salix.”
Amala backs up a step.
The crone scuttles across the tree’s upper trunk like a spider, and Amala flexes her hand at her side. Magic pulses at her fingertips, dancing around each nail.
Wrenchel laughs in delight. “Are you frightened, child?” The crone, now near enough to the base of the trunk, drops down. She lands on her feet as if the frail and alarming twists of the joints in her back are just for show. The portion of her spine between her shoulder blades is hunched, and the wrinkles on her forehead ripple away from her eyebrows until they disappear into the hairline.
Her eyes are wild. Yellow and wild. Amala’s instincts beg her to run.
“It has been a long time since I tasted fear in the air and an even longer time since I tasted it within the flesh. Ripe melons indeed.”
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